New Jersey Broken Heart Syndrome Malpractice Lawyers
A different kind of broken heart, stress cardiomyopathy, also known as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, is a heart condition caused by extreme lifestyle stress, whether physical or emotional, that suddenly weakens the heart muscle. Highly impactful emotional life events bringing grief, shock, rage, or surprise, or physical stresses, whether in the form of seizures, asthma attacks, or stroke, can cause this potentially life-threatening syndrome. An excess of adrenaline, among other hormones, paralyzes heart cells and weakens the heart muscle after a triggering event, such as loss of a loved one. Thus, stress cardiomyopathy has earned the moniker “broken heart syndrome.”
Of course, COVID-19 was in no one’s plans. When the pandemic hit in late 2019, healthcare facilities saw a rise in stress cardiomyopathy in patients, along with other heart conditions. This is most likely due to the uncertainty of the virus and the conditions resulting from it, namely, financial, social, and psychological stress. Meaningful human relationships play a large part in reducing stress and social distancing has led to the loss of connection with others, in addition to lost jobs, derailed life plans, grief, and fear of contracting the virus. Compared to pre-pandemic patients with acute coronary disease, more patients have accompanying hypertension. This, in turn, correlates with the heart bearing the brunt of that increased stress, according to a recent study published in a leading medical journal last month.
With the increased incidence of stress cardiomyopathy and other dangerous conditions affecting the heart, doctors must be acutely aware of the potential for cardiovascular problems in their patients. Failing to recognize the signs of broken heart syndrome, and lack of immediate and appropriate treatment, can result in severe complications. In some cases, it may even cost a patient their life. If you or a loved one suffered harm as a result of medical malpractice with stress cardiomyopathy or another heart condition in New Jersey, the renowned team of attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group is prepared to fight for you. Our firm provides skilled representation to victims of cardiology malpractice, emergency room errors, and other forms of medical negligence statewide. We offer cost-free, no obligation consultations, and we encourage you to call 973-435-4551 to discuss your case and potential eligibility for a claim.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Stress Cardiomyopathy
The onset of this condition may appear like a heart attack, with shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain, and dizziness. In fact, about 2% of heart attacks are, in fact, stress cardiomyopathy. However, the number is higher for women. Other symptoms of stress cardiomyopathy include sweating, nausea, vomiting, weakness, and swelling in the lower extremities and neck. Individuals may also experience low blood pressure and congestive heart failure, a condition that occurs when the heart weakly pumps blood. Both heart attacks and stress cardiomyopathy have relatively equal death rates. Unlike a heart attack, however, broken heart syndrome can improve in a short time with proper care, and a patient can make a complete recovery without lasting effects. Despite this, approximately 10% of people who suffer from stress cardiomyopathy may experience the illness again at a later date.
Who is at Risk for Stress Cardiomyopathy?
The condition more often affects menopausal women, aged 60 and over, when compared with men and younger women. This is most often attributed to shifting hormones for women as they age. Specifically, estrogen, a protective hormone against stress, drops to lower levels during menopause, leaving women’s hearts more vulnerable to stress and its resulting heart damage. Those who suffer from depression and those who are genetically predisposed, are also more prone to suffering from the condition. Regardless of gender, however, stress cardiomyopathy can lead to congestive heart failure without treatment and so, must be accurately diagnosed and treated promptly.
Preventing the onset of stress cardiomyopathy, especially for someone at risk, is generally about lifestyle. Those with risk factors and indeed, the public at large, are recommended to follow a healthy diet, exercise, practice meditation, seek counseling if and when necessary, and to engage in activities that promote stress management.
How is Broken Heart Syndrome Treated?
If admitted to the hospital for heart attack symptoms, a person is often treated for heart attack until doctors make the correct diagnosis. Then, treatment typically concentrates on maintaining clear lungs, stabilizing blood pressure, and preventing blood clots with appropriate medications. If the situation is severe, the patient might be placed on a ventilator or similar device to aid the heart in delivering oxygenated blood to the rest of the body while the heart muscle undergoes repair. Given the incredibly high stakes in cases of stress cardiomyopathy, lessening stress and initiating proper treatment to prevent permanent heart damage is critical.
Failure to Diagnose and Treat Stress Cardiomyopathy
In the current environment, physicians should be more alert to possible broken heart syndrome when patients present with heart attack symptoms, carefully examining a patient’s family history for cardiomyopathy and listening to the patient’s heart during a physical exam for specific sounds. In addition, it is imperative that emergency room doctors and others check for heart murmurs, arrhythmias, and lung crackling to discern heart failure from another heart condition. Treatment for stress cardiomyopathy is most successful when it is caught early. To be safe, physicians may need to run further diagnostic tests, such as chest x-rays, electrocardiograms (EKG), echocardiograms, as well as employing various heart monitors to determine the size, shape, and function of the heart.
Since heart attacks and stress cardiomyopathy appear in a similar manner, misdiagnoses or late diagnosis is more likely to occur, creating a dangerous delay that may increase the likelihood of heart damage or failure. Additionally, a misdiagnosis may affect the treatment choices and overall management, such as the prescription of anti-clotting medications that prevent further heart damage or heart failure while waiting for the heart muscle to effectively repair. The treatment for stress cardiomyopathy and other heart conditions differs, so diagnosis matters. In fact, the incorrect diagnosis or improper treatment for cardiovascular issues can be deadly.
Contact NJ Stress Cardiomyopathy Attorneys to Discuss Your Case
If you or your loved one suffered needless pain and suffering due to misdiagnosed or mismanaged stress cardiomyopathy, you may have grounds for a malpractice claim. Contact a knowledgeable NJ medical malpractice attorney at Fronzuto Law Group, who can review your case and advise you further. It is important to explore possible compensation for your or your loved one’s economic and other losses resulting from substandard medical care sooner rather than later, as there are time limitations for filing a lawsuit in New Jersey. You can reach us anytime at 973-435-4551 or fill out our convenient online form below for a free consultation.
- Symptoms and Diagnosis of Cardiomyopathy, Heart.org
- Incidence of Stress Cardiomyopathy During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic, JAMA Network
- Stress Cardiomyopathy, Johns Hopkins